Abnormal times: skills for living through global crisis

A framework for expanding the horizons of young people beyond formal education

Quadrants - Exoteric vs Esoteric Knowledge and Formal Education vs Autodidact

When I was a teenager I was thankfully more concerned with Chebyshev polynomials than getting murdered by doctors. Times change, and sanitary dictatorships require us to learn new things, even at tender ages.

Having grown up in a purportedly free society I failed to pay sufficient attention to the methods of totalitarian systems. I am informed that they prefer to rule by fraud, but when the fraud runs out of effectiveness then they will rule by force instead. With the crooked pandemic we are now watching the fraud fail — “new normal” has been widely rejected — so we face the possibility of good old fashioned chaos, poverty, and hunger to force us to submit.

The inability of the tyrants to make their deceit “normal” heralds an era of the wildly abnormal. This creates a challenge for each of us to learn new skills — of discernment, self-compassion, healing, spiritual awareness, justice, and self-sufficiency. Yet not everyone is ready to hear what they need to learn to survive and thrive: we can only acquire knowledge that we are emotionally prepared to desire. Furthermore, by their nature schools are structured to only teach “normal” subjects with stable curricula.

Abnormal times create a particular difficulty for children and their concerned parents. The topics we need to confront — like democide — are very scary ones, and hence “repulsive” to the innocent ego. Families are often riven with deep disagreement, with any “awake” parent(s) seen to be “unhinged”, simply because they understand the dangers. Many of us refuse to go along with the pretence that there are no wolves in sheep’s clothing, while others wish to retreat back to the comfortable “hive mind” norm — and ignore the ongoing atrocities.

The chart above is a framework I have put together as a conversation opener with my own family. My view is that we don’t need to dwell on the likely collapse of formal schooling; instead we should focus on selling the alternative of child-led informal education. This is to transcend the unhelpful binary of school vs home education: a “yes, and…” rather than “no, but…”. It lets us work with the curiosity and energy that is actually there — not that we might wish existed.

Being a retired management consultant and full-time conspiracy theorist, I naturally am drawn to a 2×2 matrix, since no problem is beyond being over-simplified into two axes. In this case I have chosen the “what” and “how”:

  • “What” is exoteric to esoteric knowledge, i.e. that which is widely available and non-secret to that which is exclusive and/or classified information. This reflects the de-occultisation of society; we are returning power to people and away from secret societies and intelligence agencies.
  • “How” is structured education in formal institutions to self-taught (i.e. autodidact), with things like home education, clubs, and MOOCs in middle. This reflects the empowerment of the individual and decentralisation of knowledge via the internet.

I have given examples of various topics and put them where it feels right to me; reasonable people could position them differently. These are merely picked as illustrative data points plucked from the air, not as an exposition of what people need to know!

Speaking of which, what we need to know is different to what got us here. Formal education is of decreasing value, and sometimes negative utility: teaching children to conform to violations of their human rights (like face masks lacking informed consent) is a wickedness. Success during abnormal times demands the maintenance of a wider portfolio of interests, not limited to topics that have curricula that can be taught by those who were seeking a respectable classroom career with a stable pension at the end of it.

I don’t think it is a breach of privacy to note that I feel my own daughter needs to be given some “stretch education” that reflects her gifts — and which her school cannot deliver. I see two categories: the intellectual world (like science), and the intuitive one (like art).

As she has expressed an interest in psychology, the first step would be to review with her some classic experiments…

  • Milgram: www.thoughtco.com/milgram-experiment-4176401
  • Stanford prison: https://www.verywellmind.com/the-stanford-prison-experiment-2794995
  • Asch: www.verywellmind.com/the-asch-conformity-experiments-2794996
  • Skinner box: practicalpie.com/skinners-box-experiment/

Although I might not have the same perspective as her mother, we can openly discuss together how we see these relating to what we observe going on in the world with Covid and the political response to it.

I personally have a series of contacts in the world of culture — books, opera, theatre, rock music, dance music, photography, etc. I can set up conversations to help my daughter to tap into what is going on culturally and expand her horizons. This is complementary to what is offered by the school (like music lessons), and establishes a healthy practise of us as parents working together to the benefit of our child, rather than being in conflict.

I hope that this framework is of use to you, and wish to acknowledge a few unseen helpers who have anonymously assisted me to pull it together and to present it here.